In this article:
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to the physical or mood changes a woman experiences before menstruation. These symptoms may affect a woman’s life.
Home Remedies for PMS
Although there is no sure-fire cure for PMS, some home remedies can help you feel better.
1. Ensure adequate intake of vitamins and minerals
Hence, restoring calcium and vitamin D levels can help reduce the symptoms of PMS. (4) Calcium is required to keep your hormone levels balanced.
Magnesium and vitamin B6 may help curb the food cravings, breast tenderness, fluid retention, bloating, and migraine associated with PMS. (5) Both nutrients contribute to the reduction of stress and cramps.
How to use:
- Consume foods rich in calcium and magnesium, such as green leafy vegetables, beans, kelp, bananas, nuts, and seeds.
- Include in your diet vitamin B-rich foods, such as eggs, milk, poultry, fish, soybeans, leafy greens, whole grains, wheat germ, oatmeal, and various nuts and seeds.
- Eat pistachios, garbanzo beans, and potatoes to incorporate vitamin B6 in your diet.
- You can also consult your doctor for an appropriate supplement.
Vitamins and minerals play an important role in maintaining women’s health and menstrual cycle, which is why certain vitamins and minerals may help ease PMS symptoms.
2. Consider chasteberry extract
Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) is a remedy touted for its effects on diseases related to hormonal imbalances.
How to use: Take 400 mg of the standardized extract of this herb daily with a glass of water.
Note: Chasteberry may have interactions with medications that affect the pituitary gland. Consult your doctor first before consuming it.
Chasteberry is an herb that works by arresting the release of a hormone called prolactin, which dominates during PMS. Chasteberry may help bring your hormonal levels back on track and quell the symptoms of PMS, such as tender breasts and hot flashes, to quite an extent.
3. Use fennel to relieve bloating
Fennel may help alleviate the stomach cramps and other symptoms experienced during PMS. Also, the natural digestive and diuretic properties of fennel, along with regular exercise, may help reduce the associated bloating and stress. (9)(10)
However, further studies are required to confirm its effects. (10)
How to use:
- Chamomile tea is known to reduce bloating, and you can enhance this effect by adding some fennel seeds to this therapeutic beverage.
- You can directly chew some fennel seeds to soothe your abdominal distress.
- If the taste of raw fennel is too strong for you, simply boil a handful of crushed seeds, filter the liquid in a glass, and drink this fennel infused water when it cools down a bit.
Fennel acts as a natural digestive aid that reduces PMS-associated pain and bloating.
4. Up your omega-3 fatty acid intake
Eating food sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids or taking supplements may also help curtail the symptoms of PMS. (11)
Omega-3 fatty acids may help avert both emotional and physical PMS symptoms such as nervousness, depression, breast tenderness (mastalgia), headache, and bloating. (12)
How to use:
- Incorporate foods rich in essential fatty acids in your diet. These include fatty fishes, coconut oil, eggs, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds.
- Before the onset of menstrual bleeding, ditch the regular processed flour bread and cookies and opt for bread containing flaxseeds.
- Add ground flaxseeds to your meals. You can add 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds twice daily to your oatmeal, smoothies, salads, cereals, dough, dressing, or sautéed vegetables.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a natural dietary alternative for alleviating the symptoms of PMS.
5. Choose turmeric to manage stomach cramps
Turmeric has been used extensively as an anti-inflammatory in traditional medicine. The curcumin present in it may help reduce the pain due to inflammation.
One study indicated that curcumin also possesses neurotransmitter-modulating effects that significantly decrease the severity of PMS symptoms in women. (13) However, the results of the study are limited due to its small sample size and variety. (13)
How to use: Consider taking curcumin capsules upon the approval of your doctor.
The anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin aid in reducing PMS symptoms.
6. Drink ginger tea to pacify the cramps
Renowned for its healing properties in alternative medicine, ginger may safely help reduce menstrual problems, including cramps, PMS, and irregular menstruation. (14)
However, further studies are required to support its dosage, safety, and effectiveness in treating PMS. (14)
How to use: Boil a few slices of ginger with a cup of water and consume once daily.
Ginger helps relieve the problems associated with menstruation, including cramps and PMS symptoms.
7. Use St. John’s wort to manage mood swings
St. John’s wort can help improve both the physical and behavioral symptoms of PMS to significant levels. However, further research is required to highlight the role of this herb in the long-term treatment of symptoms and pain management of PMS. (15)
How to use: You can consider taking 300 mg of the herb extract (standardized to 5% hyperforin) three times daily to help relieve the symptoms of PMS. Always take supplements upon your doctor’s approval.
Note: St John’s wort has an effect similar to that of a sedative; hence, it is best to seek your doctor’s approval for proper dosage. Pregnant and breastfeeding women must refrain from the consumption of this herb.
St. John’s wort has been used to tend to mood disorders since ages; hence, it can be used to tame the behavioral symptoms of PMS.
8. Drink chamomile tea to relieve cramps
Chamomile herb possesses antispasmodic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help improve PMS symptoms. It is especially useful for relieving painful cramps as it helps relax the uterus walls and reduces prostaglandin production. (16)
How to use: Mix 1 teaspoon of chamomile tea in a cup of hot water and consume.
9. Consume bananas to reduce bloating
Bananas contain high amounts of potassium and vitamin B6, which helps prevent water retention and bloating. Moreover, a lack of potassium can induce muscle cramping. (17)
However, this remedy is based on anecdotal evidence and not scientifically proven.
How to use: Include one banana in your daily diet.
10. Drink apple cider vinegar for PMS symptoms
The use of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to help manage symptoms such as water retention, bloating, headache, cramping, fatigue, and irritability is a popular anecdotal remedy.
It is best to consult your doctor before consuming ACV due to the lack of scientific evidence.
How to use: Dilute 2 tablespoons of ACV in a glass of water and consume for 2 weeks before menstruation.
11. Eat blackstrap molasses to prevent cramps
Molasses are natural sweeteners that can help prevent uterine cramps. Moreover, they are loaded with nutrients such as iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, and vitamin B6.
How to use: Consume 2–3 tablespoons of molasses daily. Consult your doctor before use.
Alternative Treatments for PMS
Here are a few alternative therapies that can help manage PMS symptoms.
Essential oils are known to have a positive effect on your emotional and physical health by reducing stress, relieving pain, and inducing sleep. (18)
The essential oils commonly used for PMS include:
- Chamomile for relaxation
- Lavender for a soothing effect
- Neroli to relieve anxiety and PMS
- Rose to alleviate stress
How to use: Add a few drops of essential oils to a warm bath or a cotton ball and inhale. Alternatively, you can mix the essential oils in a carrier oil and use it to massage your abdomen.
Note: Dilute the oils before use and conduct a patch test to check for allergies. Consult a doctor before use.
2. Acupuncture and acupressure
Acupuncture therapy can help improve emotional well-being and the physical symptoms of PMS. (19) Acupuncture and acupressure also improve quality of life, both emotionally and physically. Consult an acupuncture specialist for treatment.
Implementing a few lifestyle changes in your routine can help curtail the symptoms of mild PMS to quite an extent.
- Limit your intake of caffeine 2 weeks before the onset of menstruation. Increased levels of caffeine can worsen the tenderness in your breasts right before your periods.
- Cut back on the consumption of alcoholic beverages 14 days before your period to prevent your moods from going down. Alcohol consumption can make you feel depressed.
- Quit smoking.
- Try to get the required 8 hours of sleep to keep yourself relaxed and fatigue-free.
- Manage your stress through relaxation techniques, such as yoga, tai chi, counseling, cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT), and meditation, which can help you relax and relieve the associated stress and anxiety.
- Reduce your salt intake to avoid bloating, a common occurrence during periods.
- Reduce your intake of processed foods, dairy products, and refined sugars.
- Eat a healthy, wholesome diet with generous amounts of vitamins and minerals.
- Eat fiber-rich foods to allow intestinal clearance of estrogen. You can eat raw carrots for this purpose.
- Make sure to drink sufficient water, around 6–8 glasses each day.
- Try engaging in light exercises. Exercise triggers the secretion of “happy” hormones called endorphins that help reduce the pain and help you relax. Do aerobic exercises, such as walking, running, riding a bike, swimming, or any activity that gets your heart rate up, preferably daily for at least 20 minutes, three times a week. (20)(21)
Note: Performing exercises during your period is not harmful. However, do not engage in excessive and strenuous exercise.
The symptoms of premenstrual syndrome usually subside after menopause. Since the cause of PMS is not known, it is difficult to prevent it. However, modifying your lifestyle and trying home remedies can help ease the symptoms and improve the quality of life.